Do you think there is a difference between how a theist would define forgiveness vs. someone who is atheist? Must we always forgive to be emotionally healthy? Do you think being forgiven for something can sometimes be offensive? Is forgiveness a moral imperative?
Not long ago, I was told by a theist that they *forgave* me for being atheist. Forgave me? Really? This person seemed perfectly comfortable assigning a sin to me and then absolving me of it. What seemed sensible to me at the time was to terminate the conversation. Debate wasn't an option. Suffice it to say this individual was not up to it.
However, the notion of forgiveness did get me to thinking. I hear/read about it a lot from theists and religions. Many use it in a way akin to currency or to demonstrate nobility and ethical superiority. It often sounds like theists think they corner the market, so to speak, on forgiveness.
But just what IS it? Is it an activity invented/owned by religion or by humans in general? Perhaps there are at least two categories: the choice to absolve a tangible wrongdoing at the personal/individual level and the absolution of less tangible 'sins'.
I've also heard from many theists that forgiving transgressors is required. That without it, we are somehow poisoning ourselves...that if we don't eventually forgive a transgression, we will never heal from the effects of that transgression and will, indeed, be transgressing ourselves. I think that's pure hooey! There are a few transgressions I will never forgive. This has not poisoned me, it does not consume me, I'm not carting around hate because of it.
I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts on this. It will help me more fully bake my own.
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